I know well two great champions of earlier years who cannot now always carry a hazard one hundred yards from the tee, but who still play the game and have shots in their bag which Hagen and Jones would view with envy. On my ideal course these shall not be denied nor yet humiliated. ROBERT HUNTER
It's been a few years since we've gotten the prime Australian events here. Time again, eh?
Meanwhile the debate of Woods' appearance fee has already begun. Thanks to reader Mark for the Mike Clayton v. Greg Baum debate in The Age where Clayton makes a strong case for Tiger's appearance fee.
Steve Elling talks to several players, including Stuart Appleby and Peter Lonard, and both anticipate a political battle to ensue over the appearance fee.
Doug Ferguson takes an enjoyable look at caddies and the things they hate hearing their player say, quoting Jim "Bones" MacKay extensively.
The story also reminds me just how great Sunday's 12th hole dialogue was and how a full replay, minus any intrusions from the NBC team, would have been nice. Actually, even nicer would be just a telecast where we could mute the announcing and only listen to player-caddie conversations.
"They get advertising across the platform, and on that platform, they are reaching the strongest fan base mix from an indexing standpoint in certain segments of the marketplace that are difficult to reach..."
The Commish popped in the Transitions press room Wednesday and was asked some pretty good questions in between the really timely ones about his AT&T National Pro-Am appearance. Steve Elling offers a shorter and decidedly less snarky version of the session for those of needing less snark in their life. For the rest of you...
Q. Have you been keeping track of whether players have been adding tournaments or not after your off-season pitch to maybe have them visit a couple of locales that they had not done historically? I think one of the magazines tracked it after the California swing. It's been kind of about the same.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: There's been some movement. I think from time to time, we'll highlight a tournament that we would like to see more focus on. There's certainly been some movement among players.
But I mean, what we said to the players was, look, we just need to execute on all cylinders this year in terms of fan relationships, media access, playing, as well, among a number of things.
You guys can go back to being petulant when the Dow hits 12,000.
I've said this before; year-in, year-out they do an excellent job, and that's why we are successful because of what they do. This is just making sure we are not missing any opportunities. It's not asking them to do some quantum leap off of what they normally do. It's asking them to make sure we are focused and make sure we are executing. I do think we have had a more active interface on them with doing stuff.
Wasn't it Arnold Palmer who once said, if you don't have active interface, you have don't a PGA Tour?
Let's get to uncomfortable question...
Q. What did you think of Stenson last week?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: You know, it wouldn't be my favorite thing to see a player do. I understand the position he was in without any rain gear or anything. So I would hope that there's no recurrence of it.
But the overall reaction seemed to be sort of ho-hum from fans. We didn't get any e-mails screaming that he had done something immoral or anything.
So it just seemed to be a funny, one-off thing. He's a charming fellow. I did get a kick out of, I guess his wife asked him not to do it again, on 18, which I thought was sound advice.
Oh yes, he's getting fined next time he undresses for the cameras.
Q. You talk about players who quote unquote, get it, and I know it's not a PGA TOUR event, but the Tavistock Cup, guys flying in on helicopter across town. It's quite a display of conspicuous consumption, shall we say. Does it concern you at all how that reflects on the TOUR brand in these conditions?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I didn't get any e-mails on that, either. I don't know how to respond to that question.
See, look how polished his answers are getting on the most important matter facing the tour.
I think that we've been through this discussion recently about client and customer interface and customers coming to a golf tournament and customers being entertained. And the rhetoric around that discussion is so over the top right now because of the climate and because people are angry and everything gets rolled into one thing.
I think it's very unfortunate. It's been distortive. So you know, at some point, I think we have to understand that it's good for the economy for people to spend money, regardless of what they spend it on. I would rather have people with a lot of money spend it right now than sit on it, because however they spend it is going to help the economy.
Their accountants might not agree.
I just don't think we should figure out ways to make what is legitimate -- there's always a subjective reaction to anything by people; ten people will have a different reaction. But if everything is based on the de minimus;
You know during 8th grade Latin I was far more interested in watching Gary Coleman (still a working actor then), pull a head bouncing sleep thing that no description could ever capture. That's my excuse for not being able to offer you an on-the-spot translation. Well, thank God for Wikipedia: de minimus.
if there is anybody that would react negatively and let's don't do it, that's not good for anything. And so I don't want to characterize anybody's activities in any one way, because I don't think it really means anything in the final analysis.
That answer about covers de mininus.
Q. With all of the noise after Northern Trust, and obviously you had some discussions with people in Washington over some of the perceptions, do you strategize at all or even discuss anything like this with your counterparts in the NBA, NFL, LPGA?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Sure, certainly with the LPGA. They are more of a title-sponsor focused kind of organization.
The team sports are in a very different situation. Their platform is different. The focus there is on sponsorship is very different. But we talk to the other sports during the course of the year about a lot of stuff.
I think, again, there has been recently this focus on one little piece of one part of the value proposition. And I can't say it too many times. A title sponsor sponsors a tournament because he gets the best or they get the best branding in sports.
There is no television branding that beats the branding that the PGA TOUR offers, period.
Even something that draws more than a 1.0? Sorry, let's get back to platforms...
Secondly, they get advertising across the platform, and on that platform, they are reaching the strongest fan base mix from an indexing standpoint in certain segments of the marketplace that are difficult to reach, index high in news and PGA TOUR golf, we rank very high in those audiences and are appealing to companies that want to sponsor.
There apparently was no thirdly...
Fourthly they get global exposure, and fifthly, they get a unique business platform to do business -to-business work at tournaments. So this is one of those five value streams, and a piece of it is entertainment, just a little piece. And as I've said to members of Congress and publically, in 20 years of being involved with this business, I have never seen anything that I personally, and that's a very subjective analysis, would look at and say, that's lavish entertainment.
Now, people can differ subjectively on whether Sheryl Crow is lavish or not. I mean, if I got up and sang at the dinner, I don't think anybody would accuse that of being lavish entertainment. And there's everything in between.
Well, you are better paid than Sheryl Crow, so someone might think it was over the top. And if you broke out a cane and top hat, I think that definitely would fall under the lavish description.
But unfortunately what's happened is, and I think companies are sensitive of the entertainment question today, but what happens is the rhetoric spills way beyond that. The rhetoric talks about sponsorship and the rhetoric talks about putting customers up, and ignores the value to companies that legitimate customer relations and developing relations with customers provides to a company.
That's what we have to push back against.
You mean the suffocating business jargon that most of America attributes to Wall Street? Or the stuff you mentioned that's really just an excuse to have a good time?
Matthew Clayfield and Brent Read report on Tiger's decision to alleviate $3 million of Victorian Government money from the bloated coffers to force him to play the Australian Masters.
I'm not quite so sure this was the best phrasing in sentence two:
Victoria's Premier John Brumby last night confirmed Woods would play at Melbourne's Kingston Heath in November, beating off the NSW Government, which had hoped to snare him for the Australian Open to be played in Sydney.
I've made a decision to not track all of the course closings and fire sales, but I couldn't help notice this Bill Wilson story on the re-opening of Nick Faldo's much-hyped Cottonwood Hills near Prairie Dunes. Apparently the course closed in December for a debt restructuring.
The course lost $125,000 last year, Neville said, necessitating its closing. Staffers were laid off and telephones disconnected.
"Unusual? Well, yes and no," said Chris Tuohey, the general manager of Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton.
"I can see some courses doing that from a feasibility standpoint. Golf courses in the off-season lose money, and from a service level standpoint, it could be challenging.... But if that's all he lost over there last year, that's terrific."
I knew they were paying the PGA Tour execs a lot but...what? Oh, not that Ty? Sorry. Running a search on this "TY Management, Inc." and reading Randi Petrello's story on the sale of the Kapalua Plantation Course for $50 million, gulp, something just doesn't seem quite right. Of course, you are talking about one of the net's real LLC experts here, so if anyone actually understands what this means, feel free to set the site host straight. Thanks to reader Russell for this:
Under the terms of the sale, which is expected to close before the end of the month, Kapalua Plantation Golf LLC, a subsidiary of MLP, will lease the golf course from the new owner and continue to operate it for at least two years.
Maui Land & Pineapple said it will use proceeds from the sale to reduce debt.
“In this transaction, we will receive cash for the sale of the land and improvements, and will continue to operate The Plantation Course under the Kapalua brand with our golf management team,” said Robert Webber, president and CEO of Maui Land & Pineapple, in a statement. “We expect our golf team, led by Gary Planos, to continue to operate The Plantation Course in a manner that has led to Kapalua Resort’s world-wide recognition as the number one golf resort in Hawaii and host site for the prestigious PGA TOUR season opening event, the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Thanks to reader Joe B. for this Marisa Lagos update on the possible future of Alister MacKenzie's Sharp Park. Doesn't sound so good.
So let's see. Tim Finchem plays in the AT&T National Pro-Am and magically they are discussing a field reduction to help with the wretched pace of play. Tiger is widely believed to be offering to return if Poppy Hills is thrown out of the rotation, but we're expected to believe this was all in the works long ago? Either way, it is time to do something.
Doug Ferguson, quoting the Commish:
"Part of you says, 'Make it as good as it can be.' That's generally our attitude with any tournament," he said. "But you've got to take other things under account that might hold you back a little bit."
One other factor to consider is the strengthened relationship with the title sponsor and the world's No. 1 player. Tiger Woods has a deal with AT&T to carry its logo on his golf bag. AT&T already sponsors his TOUR event in Washington.
Woods has not played the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am since 2002, but is likely to return next year -- for no other reason than the U.S. Open will be held at Pebble in 2010.
That has led to speculation among players that Woods is behind the changes, particularly the courses. Rick George, chief of operations for the TOUR, said discussions began before Woods signed his bag deal with AT&T.
Mike Aitken reports on just how desperate European Captain Colin Montgomerie is to win.
"I feel in the past that there has been only a select few told things on a need-to-know basis but I want this to be an open campaign," he explained. "I will do it through e-mails to the players and talk to them in players' lounges. At lunch, maybe I'll sit at tables I wouldn't otherwise have sat at and say 'listen lads, this is what's happening'.
Lunching with the little people he never would have wasted his time with. Now that is determination!
"In the American golf imagination, the nine-holer is maligned as a Velcro-patched pitch 'n' putt, the lesser-dressed cousin of miniature golf."
I loved Tom Coyne's SI Golf Plus My Shot piece on Irish golf and the beauty of the 9-hole round. He nails it. If there was some way we could de-stigmatize the 9-hole round, I'd sure love to hear it. (I still say a match play event with 9-hole matches in pool play would help.)
As for Coyne's book, I just received it and haven't had a chance to look at it yet. But freelancer and avid book reader Tom Mackin says this about it and John Garrity's latest:
If you're not going to Ireland soon -- despite one Euro being worth $1.30 American, the best rate in a long while -- two new books will get you there in spirit. Tom Coyne's "A Course Called Ireland" (Gotham Books) chronicles his walk -- yes, walk -- around the entire island while playing almost 60 links courses. John Garrity investigates his own Irish heritage, at a more leisurely pace, in "Ancestral Links" (New American Library). Two different perspectives on the game and the country with a shared favorite: Carne Golf Links in County Mayo.
There was just the one rough patch (where he found out he was going to be Vice Captain without actually talking to Monty!), but now they are together now, reports Mark Garrod, assuming Jose Maria Olazabal doesn't play his way onto Colin Montgomerie's 2010 Ryder Cup squad. I can sleep now.
Shockingly I forgot to record round one or round two of the Tavistock Cup, always one of golf's most embarrassing shows of conspicuous consumption. Though I do see that Tiger Woods had to share a helicopter over from Isleworth with J.B. Holmes, so I'm sure the world No. 1's olfactory senses are just now starting to recover. Serves him right for supporting this nonsense.
Golf.com features a gallery of images and I think this one from Marc Serota just begs for some caption help.
With last week's sudden and unfortunately shuttering of T&L Golf, I couldn't help but notice the huge drop in circulation and the likely impact it made on decision-makers who shut it down. Making now a good time to be doing a little begging for our friends in the print world. Yes, this will sound like a PBS pledge drive, but I can speak from the perspective of someone who browsed so many old golf publications and fears a repeat of the late 30s and 40s when there was no more American Golfer or Golf Illustrated to kick around.
I just tossed a T&L renewal form that would have cost $29 for 6 more issues. Now, you might say that's not the greatest value these days but $29 will not even get you a dozen premium golf balls. And just think, for that money you would have gotten this amazing publication arriving in your mailbox filled with lively writing, vital travel tips, beautiful photography and insights into special places you either must see, or may never get to visit due to their remote location.
In a larger historical sense, publications like T&L serve as valuable documenters of golf architecture and important people in the game who may be of great interest to future generations. While I understand it is not your job to prop up a magazine so that future generations have a historical resource, do remember that we live in an information-driven world, and if you job is in anyway tied to your passion for the game, golf magazines provide you with insights that might just bridge some sort of gap between you and your superior. (There, it's all about YOU.! Thankfully, I know most of the people who read this site are not the raging narcissists who gobble such stuff up!).
And yes, most of the golf publications were woefully slow in adopting to the online world and continue to inexplicably ignore digital options (Golfweek fully exempted). They also undermine the value of a subscription by giving away too much content and offering subscribers few online perks like access to PDF's of back issues. I shouldn't complain because this is to the benefit of blogs, thank you very much.
That said, there is still nothing quite like a magazine. You can take it all of these weird places--the beach, the plane, the train, the car wash, the doctor's office, etc...--share it with friends easily and all for a ridiculously low price each month.
So while you may be cutting back on dinners, trips or other expenses, I beg you to think twice before ending your magazine subscriptions. You may not like every piece of writing and you may suffer the occasional paper cut while powering through the instruction drek stuff each month, but I can tell you that golf's major publications have never looked more beautiful and they've never been a better value.
So here's the PBS part. Just in case you aren't a subscriber or were looking for a classy gift...
Subscribe to Golf Magazine for $10.
Subscribe to SI and request Golf Plus and get 28 issues for $24.
Subscribe to Golf Digest for a whopping $12 for 12 issues.
Subscribe to Golf World and get a year's worth of coverage for $32.
Subscribe to Links and get one year for $13.95 or $14 for two years
Subscribe to Golfweek $35 and get a year's worth of coverage.
And this plea is most definitely applied to regional publications or others I've left out. The little guys need even more support than the big guns. Either way, I know you won't regret signing up for one or all of these pillars of the game. I sure don't want to imagine a world without them. Do you?
Gary Van Sickle posts a golf green fee horror story that does not bode well for municipal golf in Miami, or the game in general. Save some time to read the great reader comments. Plenty on the good, bad and greedy of public golf.
"The ivory-toothed Mickelson is Mr Middle America, but it may just be that Rory McIlroy is now the third most popular current golfer in the land."
That land would be...not Ireland...yep, America!
At least, if you see what the Euro press contingent has to say.
Now, Brian Keogh is exempt because he writes for the Irish Times and is expected to report on his man.
But then there's the headline to Mark Reason's final round WGC CA Championship game story: Tiger Woods raves about Rory McIlroy as Phil Mickelson wins
One can't blame the headline writer after reading Reason's story:
It's seldom easy with Mickelson, but the Phillibuster crunched a superlative drive down Doral's brutal final hole and then nearly holed his second shot to close out victory with a touch of class.
The ivory-toothed Mickelson is Mr Middle America, but it may just be that Rory McIlroy is now the third most popular current golfer in the land. McIlroy had slipped out of contention in the final round, but still NBC was showing shots of the 19-year-old. That is the sort of obsessive coverage usually reserved for only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Deep breaths people, deep breaths.
Speaking of NBC coverage that featured several compelling moments, including more epic sound crew work capturing the Bones-Mickelson conversation on No. 12, the SI Golf Group files their weekly serial novel and while I think they read way too much into the Jimmy Roberts-Tiger Woods interview, they do highlight what was one of the more uncomfortable Johnny Miller moments in a day filled with them. Damon Hack writes:
Lots to chew on this week, including a juicy on-air back and forth between Johnny Miller and Roger Maltbiegame's best player. Johnny said if Phil is hitting it 300 yards and straight, he's the best player in the world. Roger said he knew a guy who could beat him — last name Woods.
There is a need for entertaining give and take, something sorely missing since the demise of ABC's Faldo-Zinger-Tirico setup). But this was downright awkward, with Maltbie actually making sure to not to let Johnny's comment go. Great TV moment for us at home, yet the tone seemed to say: Johnny, you are really out of touch and I'm not going to let you embarrass the rest of us.
Which was more painful Sunday: Johnny Miller repeatedly citing non-existant "grain," or all of the bracketologists, committee chairs, analysts, experts and other assorted blowhards dropping the dreaded "body of work" phrase to describe the merits of NCAA tourney teams?